Album Review: Childish Gambino - 'Camp'
US comedian Donald Glover has seriously good rhymes
Um, wrong. For starters, Glover is no dilettante: ‘[b]Camp[/b]’ is his fourth full-lengther under his nom de rap (taken from a [a]Wu-Tang Clan[/a] name generator), and the best to date. For another thing, while he’s a gifted comedian, his focus is never really on being funny – just witty, heartfelt, honest and occasionally uproarious.
He’s been variously tagged as backpack and nerdcore, and you can kind of understand why: on ‘[b]LES[/b]’, Glover skewers his own hipsterhood by describing a bathroom clinch with a girl who’s “[i]Got ironic tattoos on her back/That ain’t ironic bitch, I love Rugrats[/i]”, before decreeing on ‘[b]Hold You Down[/b]’ that “[i]you’re not not-racist ’cos The Wire’s in your Netflix queue[/i]”. Pop-cultural references like that abound – his indie namechecks range from [a]Mumford & Sons[/a] to [a]Radiohead[/a] to [a]Sufjan Stevens[/a] – but there’s also an emotional heart to songs like ‘[b]Outside[/b]’ and the epic, seven-minute (and largely spoken-word) ‘[b]That Power[/b]’ that can’t be expressed in air-quotes.
“[i]Why does every black actor gotta rap some?[/i]” Glover wonders on ‘[b]Bonfire[/b]’, before concluding, “[i]I don’t know, all I know is I’m the best one[/i]”. And that’s true, even if it’s not much of a claim. I’m about to make a bigger one on his behalf, though: fuck Tyler’s empty posturing, this is the hip-hop album of the year.
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